Closing Years (1900-1915)
Return to the United States
One day in 1900 Ellen White surprised her family and associate workers by telling them that divine instruction had come to her in the night that she must return to America. From the standpoint of the work in Australia it seemed a most inopportune time for her leave, but One whose eye watches His church enterprise as a whole and looks into the future, knew well the need of her presence in the United States during the crisis that would fill the early years of the new century.
Making her home at Elmshaven, a few miles from the rural town of St. Helena in northern California, Ellen White spent the 15 remaining years of her life in book preparation, writing, personal labor, and travel. No sooner was she well settled at St. Helena than she received a call to attend the General Conference session of 1901 in Battle Creek, Michigan.
At this important meeting she boldly called for a reorganization of the work of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, that the expanding interests of the church might be fully provided for. The delegates responded to her call, developing and implementing a plan of reorganization, opening the way for the wide distribution of the growing responsibilities which, up to that time, only a few men had carried. They adopted the plan of union conferences to be intermediate organizations between the General Conference and local conferences, and arranged for General Conference departments. These steps opened the way for great expansion and development of the work of the denomination.
Two years later the offices of the General Conference and the work of the Review and Herald Publishing Association were moved from Battle Creek, and in harmony with Mrs. White’s counsel that they should be near the East Coast, they were established at Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D. C. At this juncture Mrs. White left her California home and moved to Takoma Park. For about five months she carried on her work there. Mrs. White’s presence at the denominational headquarters helped establish confidence in the decision to move east.
Busy Closing Years
Late in 1905 The Ministry of Healing, a book dealing with the healing of body, mind, and soul, came from the press. Educationhad been published in 1903, and two volumes of the Testimonies for the Church, volumes 7 and 8, were issued in 1902 and 1904, respectively
During her stay in Washington, Mrs. White encouraged church workers in southern California to secure property for a sanitarium in Loma Linda, and she called for the opening of medical missionary educational work on the Pacific Coast. During the next few years Ellen White frequently interrupted her book work for trips to Loma Linda to encourage the workers there, and to the Paradise Valley Sanitarium near San Diego, which she had helped to establish in 1903.
At the age of 81 Mrs. White traveled again to Washington, attending the General Conference session in 1909. At the conference she spoke a number of times in a clear, firm voice. After this meeting, in fulfillment of a long-felt desire in her heart, she visited her old home city of Portland, Maine. There she again bore her testimony in that historic place where her work had had its beginning 65 years earlier. This was her last trip to the eastern states, and it made a lasting and vivid impression on the many Seventh-day Adventists who heard her speak or who met her at the General Conference session.
Realizing that her remaining days were few, when Ellen White returned to Elmshaven she intensified her efforts to bring out a number of books presenting essential instruction to the church.Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, was published in 1909. In 1911 The Acts of the Apostles appeared. In 1913 Counsels to Parents and Teachers was issued, and in 1914 the manuscript for Gospel Workers was finished and sent to the press. The closing active months of Mrs. White’s life were devoted to the book Prophets and Kings.
On the morning of February 13, 1915, as Ellen White was entering her comfortable study room at Elmshaven, she tripped and fell, and was unable to rise. Help was summoned, and it soon became clear that the accident was serious. An X-ray examination disclosed a break in the left hip, and for five months Mrs. White was confined to her bed or wheelchair.
Her words to friends and relatives during the closing weeks of her life indicated a feeling of cheerfulness, a sense of having faithfully performed the work God had entrusted to her, and confidence that the cause of truth would finally triumph.
The life of Ellen White ended July 16, 1915, at the age of 87 years. She was laid to rest at the side of her husband in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Ellen White lived to see the Advent movement grow from a handful of believers to a world-wide membership of 136,879 that, by 2000, had exceeded 11 million.